Erica Schwalm graciously allowed me to post her coding fact sheet for Fecal Occult Blood Testing. Thank you, Erica!
“My office was having a lot of billing errors related to billing for FOBTs so I made this coding fact sheet to help everyone (physicians and coders) out! Perhaps it will be of some use to some of you as well. 82270 can NOT be billed for FOBT done via DRE, but 82272 can… I was seeing a lot of providers trying to bill 82270 with wellness visits when they shouldn’t have been and then, on the other hand, I found many “problem” FOBT’s (82272) that were never billed for when they should’ve been.”
Erica D. Schwalm, CPC, CPC-GENSG, CMRS
FOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Testing) Coding Fact Sheet
There are two types of FOBT – Screening (82270) & Diagnostic (82272)
1. The SCREENING test is covered yearly for those aged 50 and over. This is a preventive test done in the absence of any signs or symptoms.
The patient is given “Stool Cards” to take home and collect three consecutive specimens. When complete, the pt sends the cards in for testing. Once testing is complete, then we can bill for CPT code 82270: Blood, occult, by peroxidase activity (eg, guaiac), qualitative; feces, consecutive collected specimens with single determination, for colorectal neoplasm screening (ie, patient was provided 3 cards or single triple card for consecutive collection).
We cannot bill for the test when the pt is given the cards, only once they are returned and interpreted.
We cannot bill for screening FOBT when done during a rectal exam because only one sample is tested. This does not meet the qualification for the code. This method is considered to be included in the payment for the office visit.
The only acceptable diagnosis for this is V76.51 (Screening for colorectal cancer)
2. The DIAGNOSTIC test is covered when medically necessary for signs & symptoms without regard to patient age or frequency limitations.
The patient may be given “Stool Cards” to take home and collect 1 – 3 specimens. When complete, the pt sends the cards in for testing. Once testing is complete, then we can bill for CPT code 82272: Blood, occult, by peroxidase activity (eg, guaiac), qualitative, feces, 1-3 simultaneous determinations, performed for other than colorectal neoplasm screening.
In some situations, the physician may perform the test during a rectal exam (e.g. pt comes in c/o abdominal pain and tarry stools, physician would need to know immediately if there is active GI bleed). Unlike code 82270, this one CAN be billed even when only one specimen is tested.
Do not use a v-code. Use the sign or symptom(s) that prompted the test (e.g. rectal bleed, abdominal pain, etc.)
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